Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on June 2 2016

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Skeptic
  • Birthday 08/18/1960

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed last year, but knowing how badly that was going to go, I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. Lerk

    Was your family "weird" too?

    My family always got along. I didn't realize until I was an adult how many dysfunctional families there were in our denomination, because everyone put on a happy face in public. But our family really did get along just fine! My wife's family did, too. The weird thing to me is that people think there's something wrong with families that don't fight. Why the hell should someone's dysfunctional family be held up as the way people ought to be? My own family has become a bit dysfunctional in the last few years, though. My children's generation doesn't avoid drama like my generation and my parents' did. And my wife has been responsible for quite a bit of the drama, having never gotten over losing her babies to marriage. (Actually, she created some really big drama between me and her a number of times, but not in front of the kids.) I'm pretty sad about it because I feel like I'm in the middle. She tries to recruit me into having my feelings hurt when hers are hurt, even when I think it's unreasonable. I've gone to bat for her a couple of times and always regret it.
  2. Lerk

    What has happened to me?

    Sometimes that stuff hits you when you're reading it. Once, my wife and I were in the car on a several-hour trip and she was reading her Bible. She happened to be reading the story of the flood and she suddenly asked "why does it say everything twice?" In my whole life as a Christian I had never noticed that, yet one of the first things I found out after deconverting and doing a deep dive into the Bible was that the story of the flood was two versions of a more ancient story merged together. The compiler didn't bother to pick a version -- he just merged them, contradictions and all, so everything repeats! Anyway, she was reading it credulously, yet she suddenly noticed the weirdness.
  3. I can't really be helpful here, either. (And I'm another one of those CoCers.) I realized something wasn't right one Sunday morning in church, and it took me about a month to completely deconvert, after trying to decide whether liberal Christianity might be more correct. (I decided it had even less of a reason to exist than fundamentalism!) My main emotion was "wow!" and some amount of relief combined with quite a bit amazement at how much more sense the world made to me now! No grief at all. Now, having to tread carefully and having conflicts with my wife about it have caused quite a bit of grief, but losing the belief was nothing but positive. I hope you'll get to that point soon.
  4. It's just SATB notation. Shape notes! In most CoCs they do not object to using a pitch pipe (or phone app) to get the pitch, though I know of at least one church where a pitch pipe is not allowed because one person objects. As long as you're not playing the tune on an instrument, you aren't violating their rule that the music must be a capella.
  5. The stuff that isn't tripe and also isn't boring is just too emotional. It's manipulative, and it makes me angry. There are Church of Christ song writers whose music doesn't appear in other church's hymnals, and in fact, I'm referring to people from the "Non-institutional" CoC that most mainline CoC folks are unaware of. (Glenda Schales, Craig Roberts, Some of these people have written a lot of new music in the last 20 or so years that's well done both musically and lyrically, but they know how to get to you emotionally. When I was still a believer I was really into it and I was really choosy as a song leader, both in leading songs that weren't just repetitious or boring, or too hard for the church to sing (it's acapella four-part music), and I almost never led two songs in the same key in a single service. But (I may have told this story before) after going to a singing school one year and feeling the intense emotion (partly due to exhaustion from lack of sleep in a college dorm with poor air conditioning), I really got burned out. I actually got burned out on all music. It's maddening having a song stuck in your head ALL OF THE TIME. I've quit listening to music in the car on my commute, and my brain is a lot quieter now. I will occasionally put on an LP on Saturday, or if I've played all of my podcast episodes I might play some music in the car. I have over 2500 songs on my phone and I still occasionally buy something (some Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie recently). But cutting back drastically has really helped my peace of mind. When they put music on the screen in the NI-CoC it has the music, not just the lyrics. No way to edit on the fly!
  6. Lerk

    Bitter to the core but no prayer thanks

    Good for you! Now you can look at your life ahead and ask "what do I really want?" and, after asking, head in that direction. Good job on your escape! And that's proof for yourself that you are perfectly capable of moving forward.
  7. I never read it straight through, even though the church would occasionally hand out a plan to read it through in a year before January 1st. But I went to Bible class and worship Sunday morning, worship Sunday night, and Bible class Wednesday night, so I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Every once in a while I'll see something in the Bible that I don't remember reading before, but it doesn't happen a lot. My older son became an atheist when he decided that he wasn't reading his Bible enough and that he ought to go straight through it. Even if you've seen most of it, when you read straight through you catch a lot of context that you didn't know about. When you do "Bible study" the NT gets imposed on the OT, and you have your context wrong.
  8. Lerk

    My slow liberation from the patriarchy

    Yup! I'm afraid that with most of the major decisions I've made in my life, my primary way of determining what to do next is to ask "what should I do?" That isn't necessarily a bad question, but I've mostly answered the question by imagining what is expected of me, rather than what I actually wanted. And often that imagining is just that... imagination! Who knows whether people really expect one thing or another, or whether anyone cares!? It's a stupid way to do life.
  9. Lerk

    On a serious note to all

    Where we used to live, I had flood insurance even though it wasn't required. Then hurricane Ike came along and shoved more water into Galveston Bay and Trinity Bay than had ever been there, yet it didn't come near to flooding our house. I dropped the flood insurance after that... it seemed like a waste of money. Three years ago we moved. Last year, hurricane Harvey dumped 60" of rain in the old neighborhood in 2 days, and that house flooded. Had we still been there, we'd have been out a lot of money. My wife said "see, I told you so!" and she was right! Where we live now we got "only" 30" of rain during Harvey -- had we gotten 60", we might have flooded here, as well. (We're only 30 miles from the old house.). I now have flood insurance. We got lucky, but you can't count on luck.
  10. Oh, and don't preachers love to explain that one away! They'll say that the god didn't literally mean that the humans would be able to do whatever they planned, or that they could have reached Heaven! But, yes, that's exactly what it means. The author of the story clearly believed that the people could have reached the place where the god lived.
  11. Lerk

    Recurring fears

    I have not seen that before, but I think it's pretty accurate. Had I not been raised as a fundamentalist, I might never have realized there was a huge problem with the Bible.
  12. Lerk

    Recurring fears

    Regarding the source of morality, it comes from we humans being social creatures. Even the Bible says "a cord of 3 is not easily broken." Humans thrive because we live together in societies, and societies have to have rules... thus, moral codes. The fact that what is "good" seems innate is the result of evolution. Those humans that were better socialized thrived, and those less inclined to be social didn't reproduce as well. We still have sociopaths, but they're in the minority. It's good to enjoy your new baby! And while those evil people won't suffer for eternity, at least they're dead now. Regarding Hell, then, notice that there's no eternal life in the Old Testament, and no eternal punishment. Only Enoch and Elijah were said to have been taken to heaven. Everyone else "went to be with their ancestors" in what seems analogous to the Greek "Hades" (the underworld). And that isn't even universal... Ecclesiastes simply says that we return to dust. The Jews seem to have picked up the idea of eternal reward and punishment from the Persians (who practiced Zoroastrianism). Between the testaments, it became a very common belief, though you will note that the Sadducees didn't believe in life after death. They didn't believe in it because it was unscriptural! So while a destiny of either Heaven or Hell seems a given in the New Testament, it was a new belief for the Jews at the time and Christianity just picked it up and ran with it. One of the things that make it so easy for me to disbelieve the Bible is the fact that it evolves a lot from the Genesis to Revelation. As a fundamentalist Christian I was taught that if there's even one error or inconsistency, then you can just throw the whole thing out. But I was taught to impose the NT onto the OT, and when you do that it appears to be consistent... you're defining away the change! (IE "this OT passage can't mean what it seems to say because it wouldn't fit with the NT.") To make a long story short, "Hell" shows up way past the middle of the Bible. It was invented. It's a belief that evolved. It's entirely made up -- not revealed by a god.
  13. Lerk

    How to share deconversion with spouse

    My wife was always asking why the god didn't help her when she needed it (physical problems and depression (which is also a physical problem)). Usually I would give a pat Christian answer or just say I didn't know. One day she asked me if I thought that the god actually answered prayers and I just said "no." It only took me a month to deconvert when I first noticed a problem with what I'd always been taught about the Bible, so this was rather sudden. Anyway, she followed up her question with "do you believe any of the Bible?" and I again answered "no." I wouldn't recommend this method of telling your spouse. Honestly, I don't know what I'd do differently if I had to do it over again, but six years later we still have an occasional blow-up about it. Most of the time things are fine, but once in a while it gets intense! When it first happened, she said things like "I don't think I can be married to an atheist!" (This despite the fact that her religion says it's not permissible to divorce for any reason except adultery.) She said I wasn't the same person she had married. (We had been married almost 31 years at the time, now 37.) (Honestly, the biggest problem came along when one of our sons deconverted and he and I were having private discussions about it. I personally still think we had every right to have these conversations, but she felt betrayed. Then I told him he could tell his wife, and that was a big, big mistake, so all hell broke loose when she told her parents. I was in the closet, and my son's father-in-law outed me. I won't go into all of that here.) Anyway, I think making casual comments or asking "innocent questions" might be the thing to do. If he starts off by thinking you just have doubts then after some amount of time maybe he won't be shocked when you say (in the midst of a relevant conversation) "you know, I just don't really believe any of this." Easing into it may be the best course. Hope it goes well!
  14. Lerk

    God cannot be judged by human standards

    Tell them that their statement is nothing but a tactic to shut down conversation. It's equivalent to saying "just shut up and quit thinking." Tell them that they need to go away and read the Bible from beginning to end and notice how the god changes from the beginning to the end, how they've been taught their whole lives to impose their New Testament beliefs on the Old Testament, and once they've read it then maybe they'll be able to have a reasonable conversation. Turn it around on them -- shut them down by pointing out that their answers are non-answers and that until they've done some reasoning they aren't worth talking to.
  15. Lerk

    Emotional Health While Leaving Christianity

    Regarding a moral standard, Anne Gaylor said to ask about an action, "is it reasonable? Is it kind?" I don't think she originated that thought, but Google is failing me as to the original source right now. The point is, though, that humans, being social animals, have the ability to reason out a moral standard. The Bible that we once thought came from a god is filled with moral codes that were developed by the humans of the times they were written, but we know better now in so many cases. People who believe in continuing revelation will argue that their god never wanted people to own each other, but it took him until the 1800s to get that through to us. What that really shows us is that morals are ever changing, usually progressing, but that there's no divine standard. Some do argue that the moral standard is in a sense objective, but I'm not a philosopher and don't really understand the arguments. We don't have to have divine authority for our morals... we can figure that out on our own and with the help of our society. I am a more moral person now that I don't feel like the Bible is the standard. I'm kinder and try harder to help people, and much less likely to blame them for their circumstances. Christianity gave me too many wrong answers, and now that I know it's wrong, I know better how to be a good person... I actually know what "good" means! As far as purpose, "fear God and keep his commandments" seems awfully shallow to me, yet that's what Ecclesiastes says is our entire purpose! What kind of purpose is that? As others have suggested, we make our own purpose. Even Christians make their own purpose... they just try to make it fall under that "keep his commandments" umbrella. Just as with morality (and being a better person now that before) I also have a clearer sense of purpose. My purpose is to make my own life and the lives of those around me as pleasant I can, as far as I am able. That doesn't mean "unbridled consumption," it means taking the future into account (planning for retirement... I'm 58 years old and have to think about my not-so-distant future!), enjoying "now" as much as possible, and spreading joy in what little ways I can. At its smallest, I tip wait-staff pretty well. I try to make my grandchildren laugh. I try to make my wife laugh. (And she suffers from clinical depression so it isn't always easy and I have to deal with a lot of frustration, but I know it's harder for her.) But boiling it down, we don't need a purpose handed to us by a god or a king or a parent in order to have one. The truth is that we contribute to society in our jobs and in the other things we do every day. That's purpose. We have purpose in life by virtue of the fact that we were born into society. When I realized that there were probably no such things as gods, and that Yahweh certainly was not real, I was able to feel free from a tyrant that was never there in the first place. I was free from society's belief in this non-existent being (though somewhat still constrained due to societal pressures). And this freedom allowed me to see what was truly moral, and to see what a wonderful thing it is to be alive and to be productive in society. I even like my job better now, because I can see the results and how important it is to be a small cog in this big machine. (Without all of the cogs, nothing works!) It's so much deeper and more meaningful that the Christian version! I hope this encourages you!